GREENVILLE, S.C.-Michelin North America, for the first time, recently gathered together about 25 of its raw materials suppliers to discuss what the firms are doing to recycle waste materials. The interactive conference, held Sept. 13 at Michelin's Greenville headquarters, included representatives of oil producers, synthetic rubber producers, steel companies and chemical companies.
Attendees discussed areas where cooperation between Michelin and its suppliers could be optimized, the company said.
The meeting focused on three main areas: recycling scrap tire components back into raw materials used to make new tires or other products; recycling old vehicle components back into raw materials used in new tires; and research into rubber recycling technology.
In the past, the tire maker has met individually with its suppliers. But this was the first combined meeting in which the suppliers shared their approaches to recycling and their progress in using recycled materials, a company spokesman said.
No definitive solutions resulted from the meeting, the spokesman said, but the supplier representatives agreed to pursue their individual research and programs.
During the next few months, Michelin will meet with its suppliers on an individual basis to further discuss recycling options, the spokesman said.
``It is the way the automotive and tire industry is moving-to recyclable materials,'' the Michelin spokesman said.
Michelin, itself, is involved in university research projects and rubberized asphalt testing. The tire maker also is looking at theconversion of waste materials into energy, the reuse of carbon black and the recycling of prototype tires, the spokesman said.
In addition, the firm is working with its suppliers on other fronts, such as looking at ways to reduce waste in shipping materials.
``However, our primary efforts are geared to extending the original life of the tire through research and development,'' said Doug Bell, who heads Michelin's Recycled Tire Task Force.
Michelin pushed the envelope of tire wear warranties a few years ago with its introduction of an 80,000-mile warranted passenger tire. The tire maker also has been working on extending the life of truck tire casings.